Tourism season brings concerns about invasive plant species - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Tourism season brings concerns about invasive plant species


Wisconsin's Northwoods is a popular vacation destination. The lakes and forests provide recreation and an economic boost to the people living in the region.

With the start of the tourism season, economic and tourism leaders have high hopes. Visitors looking to use the lakes and rivers bring millions of dollars into the economy. But, unfortunately, sometimes with boats and other watercraft traveling from lake to lake, invasive plant species take a ride, too.

Boaters are being asked to keep their boats clean and check them from plants before putting them into the water or taking them out. Invasive species that tag along on boats can quickly spread in the water. The WI DNR web site says Eurasian watermilfoil quickly forms a thick canopy which can block sunlight for native plants and destroy fish habitat.

Several lacks have used divers to remove the invasive plants. The Oneida Lake Association has tried this route several times. During the past two years, it has used a $19,000 grant to pay for chemical removal of the plants.

Lake Association President Steve Oestreicher says, "At first we were worried. But now things are looking pretty good. But you have to stay on top this. It spreads like wildfire and in a year you can no longer swim or boat on a lake.

The Minocqua Chamber of Commerce director, Kim Baltus, agrees. She says, "We need to ensure that the lakes and rivers are maintained. If we don't it threatens not only the environment but our way of life."

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